Mutinying Maldives police urge presidential overthrow

Mutinying police on the holiday islands of the Maldives took over the state broadcaster on Tuesday and issued an opposition-linked call for people to take to the streets to overthrow President Mohamed Nasheed, witnesses said.

Nasheed was safely inside the headquarters of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and in control of the military and would address the nation shortly, a source close to the president said.

A handful of MNDF soldiers took part in the demonstration of several hundred people outside the headquarters, along with police who defied orders to break up opposition protests earlier on Tuesday.

The violence on the Indian Ocean archipelago — best-known as a beach getaway — is the worst in a struggle between Nasheed, widely credited with ushering in full democracy with a 2008 election win, and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose 30 year rule was widely seen as autocratic.

It was unclear how Nasheed would address the nation with the state broadcaster in the control of the mutinying police.


Protests began weeks ago after Nasheed ordered the military to arrest the top criminal court judge, whom he accuses of being in the pocket of Gayoom.

That set off a constitutional crisis that has Nasheed in the unaccustomed position of defending himself of acting like a dictator.

Jihad
Gayoom’s opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives accused the military of firing rubber bullets at protesters and a party spokesperson, Mohamed Hussain “Mundhu” Shareef, said “loads of people” were injured. He gave no specifics.

An official close to the president denied the government had used rubber bullets but confirmed that about three dozen police officers defied orders overnight and smashed up the main rallying point of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party.

“This follows Gayoom’s party calling for the overthrow of the Maldives’ first democratically elected government and for citizens to launch jihad against the president,” said the official who declined to be identified.

The protests, and the scramble for position ahead of next year’s presidential election, have seen parties adopting hard-line Islamist rhetoric and accusing Nasheed of being anti-Islamic.

The trouble has also shown the long-standing rivalry between Gayoom and Nasheed, who was jailed for a combined six years after being arrested 27 times by Gayoom’s government while agitating for democracy.

The trouble has been largely invisible to the 900 000 or so well-heeled tourists who come every year to visit desert islands swathed in aquamarine seas, ringed by white-sand beaches.

Most tourists are whisked straight to their island hideaway by seaplane or speedboat, where they are free to drink alcohol and get luxurious spa treatments, insulated from the everyday Maldives, a fully Islamic state where alcohol is outlawed and skimpy beach wear frowned upon. — Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

2019: The ones who left us

From Uyinene Mrwetyana, Oliver Mtukudzi to Xolani Gwala, Mail & Guardian remembers those who have passed on

More battles ahead for domestic worker unions

Florence Sosiba, speaks to the Mail & Guardian about how important domestic workers are and exclusion in the COIDA

“Life has been good to me, considering where I come from” – Xolani Gwala

Just over a year ago, veteran radio presenter Xolani Gwala’s cancer was in remission. He spoke to the Mail & Guardian once he was back on air.

Kanya Cekeshe’s lawyer appeals decision not to grant him bail to the high court

Kanya Cekeshe’s legal team filed an urgent appeal at the Johannesburg high court on Tuesday against Monday’s judgment by magistrate Theunis Carstens.

Leader’s principal aim to build IFP

Gravitas: Velenkosini Hlabisa brings his experience to his new post as leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Police Minister Bheke Cele addresses Jeppestown

Police minister Bheki Cele visited Jeppestown on Tuesday to speak to business owners and community leaders.
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…